On Saturday, I had lunch with my wife, son and a few friends at Terroni restaurant in downtown Toronto. Terroni is one of my wife’s favorite places to eat in the city; they have three locations in Toronto and one in L.A.
I love it too, since the food is authentic Italian and the restaurant on Adelaide, where we were, is inside the historic York County Court House, which served as the city court from 1852 to 1900. Be sure to use the restrooms as they (as well as the wine cellars) are in the original jail cells downstairs.
We all sat down to lunch and ordered our food. My friend ordered the Spaghetti in Canna a Mare (seafood pasta). When the server brought the food over, my friend asked for cheese on his pasta. The server said no, they don’t serve cheese on the seafood pasta. I get it…I’m half-Italian and have heard my dad say that you never put cheese on seafood pasta countless times.
And the menu does state: “Spaghetti in Canna a Mare [comes with] fresh clams and mussels, calamari, scallops and tiger shrimp, light tomato sauce (this pasta is not served with parmigiano to highlight the delicate flavours of the shellfish; following ancient Italian tradition … Enjoy!)” But still…if someone wants to put cheese or ketchup on their dish, it’s their prerogative.
My philosophy is, “To each his own.” If my buddy wants cheese on his Spaghetti in Canna a Mare, then he should be able to have it—especially when he’s paying $22 a plate. I understand the chef’s desire to serve authentic food but I was taken aback when the server adamantly refused to bring my friend cheese. When she said no the first time, we all kind of laughed but when we realized she was serious, an awkward silence fell over the table. I asked if I could have some cheese on the side of my Tonnarelli alla Norcina, which had Italian black truffle shavings, homemade spicy sausage, pecorino and garlic. (I wanted it on the side so I could just give it to my buddy.) As our server started grating cheese all over the top of the pasta, I asked her again to please put it on the side. She said, “Sorry, we can’t put the cheese on the side.”
Now, if I’m paying $25 for a plate of pasta (which admittedly, is darn good!), and I can’t get a little cheese on the side, I find that insulting. I briefly considered leaving but my wife would have been embarrassed and my buddy Matt is super nice and said, “No worries, I think it’s cool.”
I grew up in southern Connecticut and our local grocery store, Stew Leonard’s, has a quote engraved in stone at the entrance, which reads “Our Policy: Rule 1: The customer is always right! Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule 1.”
I’m not sure if that should always be the case since there are some crazy customers out there but it’s a good rule for businesses that are in the service industry. The food is so good and my wife loves it but I’m not sure if I would go back because of their unfriendly policy.
What do you think? Has this ever happened to you before?
TIP: If you do go to Terroni on Adelaide Street in Toronto, don’t park at the closest parking lot. They charge $15 for an hour or more. If you download the free app Best Parking, it will show you nearby parking lots for just $5.